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Bike Parade Brings Heartfelt ‘Happy Birthday’ and ‘Thank You’ to a Nurse

Patti Singer
pattisinger@minorityreporter.net

To start National Bike Month and to wish her niece Kayla Brown a happy birthday after the nurse finished a 12-hour shift at Strong Memorial Hospital, Karen Rogers organized a bike parade down Crittenden Boulevard on May 2.

Gwen Clifton decorates her bike with birthday greetings for Kayla Brown, a nurse at Strong Memorial Hospital. Photo by Patti Singer/Minority Reporter Media Group

A bike ride to say “Happy Birthday” also sent a message of thanks to health care workers and showed that friends can pedal together and still keep a proper distance from each other.

“We are advocating for biking even in this pandemic,” said Rogers, who runs Exercise Express. “You can ride by yourself, but you can also ride together while social distancing.”

About a dozen riders spread out in a parking lot near the medical center campus before starting the ride at about 8:30 a.m. Some decorated their bikes with balloon and streamers as they received instruction from biking advocate Scott Wagner about maintaining space as they rode in available bike lanes.

“A lot of this about teaching,” Wagner said. “This thing is not going away in a hurry. We have to teach behaviors that will be acceptable and safe for the foreseeable months.”

Rogers said there have been car parades past hospitals to thank workers, and she thought this was a good opportunity to involve the bicycling community.

“It’s about being on bikes, doing social distancing and getting out,” she said. “We’re not going to be congregating. We’ll do the bike lane and keep it going.”

Kayla Brown had friends and family bike past Strong Memorial Hospital on May 2 to wish her happy birthday after her shift. Patti Singer/Minority Reporter Media Group

Riders wore masks along with their helmets, but their “thank you” and “happy birthday” shouts clearly could be heard as they came down the road.

Brown, who’d been tipped off at the last minute that something was up, stood on the sidewalk waiting for them. “My mom called me and said, ‘Let me know when you’re in the elevator’ and she told me when to come out.”

Brown captured the parade on her camera.

“It was amazing,” she said. “I loved it. Thank you, everyone.”